Canon 85mm f/1.8 or Canon 50mm f/1.4?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by texasrexbobcat, Jul 21, 2010.

  1. texasrexbobcat

    texasrexbobcat TPF Noob!

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    Okay, so I was wondering which lens would be better for low-light sports photography, or which is just a better lens in general?

    I know that neither of these are the lenses of choice when it comes to sports, but I don't have the money for a 70-200 f/2.8 lens.

    I've read some of the reviews on both of these and I was wondering about image quality at the widest aperture.

    The 50mm has a wider aperture but is the IQ at 1.4 going to as good as the IQ of the 85mm at 1.8?

    Is there even that much of a difference between 1.4 and 1.8?
    As in; will 1.4 even be useful or needed? Or will the tradeoff between IQ and shutter speed be too great?

    As a side-note: I recently purchased a used 1D Mark II. I'm not sure if that affects which lens is better though.
     
  2. oldmacman

    oldmacman TPF Noob!

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    The biggest challenge will be the depth of focus. If you are doing sports, the athletes will be moving in and out of your focus plane very quickly. The more wide open you are, the narrow the plane.
     
  3. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    The 85 generally focuses a bit faster than the 50, in my experience. The 85's focusing also seems more reliable--the 50/1.4 EF has occasional focus hiccups...it's hard to explain, but hiccup is the term most people would use...occasionally my 50/1.4 will balk, or get confused, stutter, hiccup, whatever you want to call it. That's annoying as hell. The 85/1.8 doesn't do those things. The aperture difference between 1.4 and 1.8 is generally not significant in a real world sense.
     
  4. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Reach will be your real priority if you're shooting anything like basketball, soccer, football, etc... where there will be a big distance between you and your subject where you can't move closer to them.
     
  5. Sam6644

    Sam6644 TPF Noob!

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    both of those lenses are too short and anything wider than 2.8 is too shallow depth of field for sports.

    Since I got the 7D and don't mind jacking the ISO a little, I don't even shoot sports at 2.8 unless I have to anymore. I hate going wider than 4 because the DOF is just too shallow.

    The only place I can see either of those lenses doing you any good is sitting baseline shooting basketball.
     
  6. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    What are you people talking about??? Indoors, a 50 or an 85mm lens are often very useful for sports like volleyball, wrestling, basketball, judo, karate, dog shows, horse arenas, gymnastics, and many other indoor events. With a 50mm or 85mm you can show some context of the event, and can shoot at very high shutter speeds. For track and field a 50 or an 85 has a huge number of uses, and for softball or baseball from the 3rd base area or the home team dugout area, a 50 or an 85mm lens can be used to capture close-up base action at 3rd and 1st base. For high jump, pole vault, and long jump and triple jump, at many tracks you are forced into an area where a 50 or a 35mm is the only lens length you can actually deploy.

    When you have credentials and are shooting from field level, "reach" is often not the issue--the problem is actually being too close to use your longer lenses. In true low light situations at say high school fields and stadiums, the lighting is pitifully bad--much worse than at the NCAA level, and sheer aperture speed can be very necessary. There is low light and there is low light: when you can shoot at f/4 in a sports situation, the light is not "low"...
     
  7. Sam6644

    Sam6644 TPF Noob!

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    Whaaaaaaaaat? We're talking about sports photography here.

    Sports = shoot tight & crop tighter. You can never be too tight in sports, but its very easy to be too wide. There is nothing interesting about a package of sports photos all shot wider than they should be.

    A wider lens is nice for shooting a few overalls, but as an editor if I sent a photographer out to a baseball, wresting match, volleyball, etc. and he came back with 300 shots taken at 50 or 85mm with the subject taking up 10% of the frame I'd be pissed.

    i agree that shooting at f/4 means that it's not that low of light and that f/1.4 would be a nice trick up your sleeve, but I'm going to stand by my original statement that shooting sports at 1.4 is going to bring some heartache as you catch a bunch of great moments, all properly exposed and all back-focused.
     
  8. Sam6644

    Sam6644 TPF Noob!

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    *** I want to say that I'd happily take either one of them for use on a second body while shooting sports, but I would never call either of them a primary lens for sports.

    My sports set up is my 70-200 f/2.8 and 17-55 f/2.8, zoomed all the way in to 55.
     
  9. rufus5150

    rufus5150 TPF Noob!

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    If your choice is between the 50 and the 85 (and other lenses aren't in play), go with the 85. I can attest to the 'hiccups' Darrel mentioned and the 50 at 1.4 is softer than the 85 at 1.8. You'll appreciate the longer reach as well.
     
  10. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Depending on the venue I am shooting, since I am at court/field venue the 85 is for me a much used lens. Indoors for basketball my primary body usually has an 85mm on it, secondary is either a100 f2, 135 f2L or 24-70 f2.8L and my third body will have my 200mm f2 for far court shots. Pretty much the same thing for wrestling volleyball etc. For indoors I also usually have in my vest a 50mm f1.4 and the 16-35 f2.8L.

    Outdoor venues, Primary is usually my 400 f2.8L or 300 f2.8L, depending on the sport. My secondary is usually the 70-200 f2.8L. Most outdoor venues I only carry 2 bodies.

    As for shooting sports, close only counts when it captures all the action. That requires shooting wide enough to capture the action. Cropping is a sports shooters friend.
     
  11. AverageJoe

    AverageJoe TPF Noob!

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    Same here, go with the 85mm. On top of that there are rumors of a new Canon 50mm prime, not that rumors are facts.
     
  12. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I vote for the 85mm... even then, I'd wonder if it would be a long enough focal length for indoor sports. The 135mm L is barely enough for indoor soccer.
     

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